As vice chair of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board, I am pleased to provide this update to fire service personnel across the United States. The goal of this update is to increase the fire service community’s awareness about the FirstNet mission, which is focused on building a broadband network for use by first responders.
I’m hoping that a regular message from FirstNet will help the fire service learn more about our plans and progress, as well as ways to participate in the FirstNet process in all U.S. states and territories.
The network is in the planning and design stages, and FirstNet is looking for opportunities to engage the fire service community at every step of the way—from planning, to design, to deployment and operation of this network in the coming years.
Once built, the nationwide public-safety broadband network will be your network. Please feel free to reach out to me if I can help in any way to provide information or connect you with the right people at FirstNet.
What Is FirstNet?
FirstNet was established by Congress as an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Our mission is to ensure the design, construction and deployment of a nationwide wireless broadband network (not unlike a nationwide carrier’s network) for fire, law enforcement, EMS and other public-safety agencies.
Once built, the FirstNet network will provide the fire service and other public-safety agencies with access to all of today’s (and tomorrow’s) technology, such as smartphones, tablets, etc., over a network that’s reliable, secure and available on a priority basis so you can access the network when you need it.
The FirstNet interoperable network will be available to first responders in states, territories and tribal reservations. To learn more, visit FirstNet.gov/Network.
How Is FirstNet Governed?
FirstNet is governed by a 15-member board, 12 of whom are appointed by the secretary of Commerce for 1-3 year terms. All major public-safety disciplines are represented on the board.
In addition to myself, the board includes a sheriff, police chief, EMS director, mayor, former governor and representatives from the communications and IT sectors. The board also includes leadership from the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and White House Office of Management and Budget as permanent members.
To learn more about FirstNet’s board, visit FirstNet.gov/Board.
Consultation and Outreach to Public Safety
The governor in each state and territory has appointed a single point of contact (SPOC) to coordinate the planning and outreach for FirstNet. This ongoing process is called consultation and is one of FirstNet’s top priorities as we begin to design how the network will be built.
Through the consultation process, FirstNet is gathering requirements from the public-safety community to inform the development of a network plan in your state or territory. FirstNet encourages fire service personnel to become active participants in the process.
To learn more about your state’s plan, please contact your SPOC. An updated list of contacts is available on FirstNet.gov/Consultation, where you can also see upcoming meetings in your state or territory.
In addition to the SPOCs, FirstNet is working closely with the IAFC through the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC). The IAFC representative to the PSAC is Chief Gary McCarraher, an excellent resource. Chief McCarraher also acts as the IAFC communications committee chair. We appreciate his work on the PSAC and encourage you to reach out to Chief McCarraher for more information about FirstNet.
Ways to Connect with FirstNet
Our website is FirstNet.gov. If you have specific questions, please feel free to contact me at Jeff.Johnson@FirstNet.gov.
Thanks for taking the time to read about FirstNet. I’ll periodically update you on this highly important broadband network for the fire service. Keep an eye out in On Scene. Thanks again for you interest and support.
Jeffrey Johnson, Chief (Ret.)
FirstNet Vice Chair